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Peter White - Glow Print E-mail
Tuesday, 02 October 2001
Columbia Records, 2001
| Performance 5.5 | Sound 8 |

ImagePeter White is like one of those TV miracle products. He can take any edgy -- or even just slightly prickly -- style of music, and make it as smooth as the proverbial baby's bottom.

But what about '70s funk, like "Who's That Lady" by the Isley Brothers? No problem, my friend. Peter White-Out removes any trace of bass from the mix, sprinkles in Kirt Whalum's non-abrasive sax and, presto, it's elevator-ready.
But how do you remove those distinctive down-home soul imprints left upon an old Motown hit like "Just My Imagination" by The Temptations? Hasn't the Motor City left indelible musical treadmarks on this classic? Well, just listen as a hand-clapping rhythm track is melded with Rick Braun's somnolent trumpeting as White's unthreatening acoustic guitar rides all over it. He transforms this R&B song into something even whiter than Michael Jackson.

Peter White's smooth jazz suffers from a case of sound over substance. By forcing everything to fit into his patented one-style-fits-all-formula, it only serves to make everything sound almost exactly the same. He's a skilled guitarist who knows how to finger-pick his way through a melody, but his chosen format restrictions turn him into a wallflower, and an instrumentalist who is almost indistinguishable from the other elements in the mix.

On a few of these songs (like "When I'm Alone" and "Life Story"), where White dispenses with the woodwind, drum programming and brass accompaniments, the listener gains the full effect of his quality playing.

These songs show off his instinctive ability to bend notes and invent multi-note patterns in a way that makes you stop and listen for a moment. You hear White, and not his predictable stylistic patterns.

Just because something gives off a glow doesn't always mean that it provides any true light. Peter White's music would be much more appealing if he removed some of its glaring sheen to reveal a little more of his own natural light.

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